Balancing Healthy Habits – Day 49 Of #365daysofselfcare

The Blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

healthy habitsSelf-care is developing healthy habits without being hard on yourself

Myself and food have a constant love hate relationship. Although I do have a far healthier attitude towards eating than I once did, it is a constant battle. I can go a period of time where I eat really well, then I have some down days and comfort eat, or simply just stop paying proper attention to what I am eating.  I cycle like this all the time.

Over the last couple of months, I made a lot of progress in moving again towards healthier food. I even lost some weight after putting on an awful lot. Then I was diagnosed with a low thyroid. I decided to stop giving myself a hard time about losing weight and to just eat sensibly and revisit my need to shed a few pounds once my thyroid levels had levelled out.

However, I seem to have used it as a bit of an excuse to stop making any effort to eat regularly and healthily. Since starting the thyroid medication I have lost weight without really trying, even when I’m eating comfort food I am not putting on weight . This means I am really lacking incentive to improve my diet.

Today, I went shopping and bought some healthy food. I cooked myself scrambled egg on bagels and as I sat eating them I remembered how much I really enjoy nutritious food! It is just too easy to grab a quick processed snack but it is never as tasty. Its helpful that I now have a partner, someone else to cook for (yes those of you that know me will be surprised to hear that I am the chef in the relationship, his cooking skills are worse than mine!). I need to remember that it is about balance. I don’t have to go full steam ahead and become a food saint. It is not about setting hard restrictions, it is about little changes that become habits.

 

 

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Removing the Shame In Talking About Mental Health

UntitledI have been very honest about the fact that I am in the middle of a mental health crisis, one that I am finding very difficult to manage. My usual ways of coping just haven’t been helping. A lot of the time I have been so fatigued I haven’t had the energy to do the simplest of self-care actions.

Recently, I saw the hashtag #365daysofselfcare on Twitter and followed the link to the website Blurt. I decided that this is just what I need right now. It will get my focus back onto my self-care. Posting about it each day will help me to rebuild the habit and keep myself accountable.

Its been two weeks now since I started participating in the daily hashtag and it has indeed been beneficial. I am paying much more attention to taking care of myself and making time for self-care every day. There has also been an additional unexpected outcome of posting daily, it has got me talking about my mental health.

This really shouldn’t be a revelation for me, I write and make videos about my mental health all the time. However, when I write or make a video, I do so after the fact. I do talk very openly, but it is done in retrospect. My sharing is delivered in a reflective and measured way.

In contrast, the daily sharing I am doing with the hashtag on my Instagram and Twitter is raw and uncensored. I am sharing what is happening on that day, at that moment. In posting this way, I have often caught myself thinking, “I sound like I am a right state”, worrying about what people will think of me. Its been a surprise to notice that I still carry shame around my mental health, despite being so open about it.

Shame and stigma is a corrosive side effect of mental illness. It stops people asking for help and puts them more at risk of harm, isolation and worsening overall health. The shame is senseless, its an illness, what is there to feel shame about? Physical and mental health is part of everyone’s everyday life. We don’t shame someone for having a broken leg and tell them to pull themselves together, do we? We help them, supporting them while they heal. The same compassion needs to be extended to those who have mental health problems.

I am so pleased to see so many people and organisations talking openly this week as part of mental health awareness week. This must continue, not just this week but permanently. Living well with and recovering from mental illness, begins with removing the burden of shame.

Coping With Stress When Your Scale Is Already Off-Balance

balance.jpgThis week is Mental Health Awareness Week and this year’s theme is ‘Stress’. Sadly, stress is a common affliction in our fast-paced world and it is something that each of us need to be mindful of. However, when you have existing mental health challenges, being mindful of stress becomes even more critical.

I experience my own mental health as a set of scales which are always off balance. My various challenges and addiction history, mean I own a set of scales which are incorrectly calibrated. It’s almost impossible to get them to level out dead centre. I have learned to be okay with this, and to find ways to get them to balance and stay stable in their offset state. This works as long as my life remains fairly consistent and stress free. However, life is life, unexpected or upsetting events will of course occur. When they do, like many of us with mental health challenges, I’m affected far more by stress than people whose scales are more accurately calibrated.

In experiencing an additional stress, I find I am triggered in all areas. The shock of a stressful event can knock me for six, my physical health begins to suffer, I can start feeling ashamed that I am falling apart where others around me are coping. If I am not careful, this can send me into a spiral and put me at risk of a crisis or relapse.

Over the last few years in my recovery, I have learnt how to better manage a stressful event so that I can look after my mental well-being until the event passes or is resolved. These are some of the things that I find helpful, in order to reduce the impact of the additional stress.

Remind yourself that it is OK to feel whatever you are feeling

Enforce your personal boundaries – clearly state your needs and your limitations

Drop anything from your life that is not important – make things simple

Use your coping strategies to administer self-care to yourself

Contact a friend or support agency for extra help

Evaluate your well-being on a daily basis – it may take a while to re-balance

Stress is often unavoidable but with careful management, it need not compromise our entire well being and we can return to own definition of balance in good time.

Day 3 of #365daysofselfcare

This Blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

2018-05-03_00.38.03-01Today can best be described as a, ‘wading through treacle’ day.

I had a  counselling this morning. It helped to share how I’m feeling and to vent my frustrations at my additional health issues. Having someone to talk to is so vital.

I felt quite lost once back home and very frustrated with myself. I did lots of gentle talking to myself  and reminding myself that my feelings were both understandable and valid.

I managed to find some motivation later in the afternoon and made a video for my channel. I also made nutrient packed salad despite the temptation to buy junk.

However, I wasn’t mindful of the time and sat editing my video until almost 1am. I tried not to get cross with myself and just set the morning alarm for a couple of hours later.

I decided it would be helpful to take a little more time to wind down before getting into bed, so I made myself a hot chocolate and sat in bed reading a chapter of a book before turning of the light and settling down at 1.45am

Tomorrow is a new day.

 

 

Day 2 of #356daysofselfcare

This Blog is part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge

2018-05-01_22.41.04-01I barely slept last night. I was up and down to the toilet every couple of hours. It’s the worst my bladder has been for a couple of weeks. Being so tired,  l slept through my alarm. However, with self-care in mind, I didn’t beat myself up about sleeping in. I instead took some deep breaths, accepted l needed the additional sleep and just started my writing work later than planned.

I also cancelled going to see mum as tiredness and a mum with dementia is not a great fit.  I surprisingly managed 3 hours of writing done, and afterwards I planned to flake out on the sofa. However, I had a sudden urge to do a bit of exercise. I decided it would likely do my very unfit body some good. I went for a  20 minute circular walk on the seafront and then did a 15 min weight session.

In the evening, I rewarded myself by putting my feet up and watching the remaining episode of lost in space.

Another nicely balanced day which again surprised me. It shows that mindfulness really does help a day to develop and turn out well, even after an awful start.